Review: The Clockwork Boys by T.Kingfisher

Ostensibly a D&D style fantasy in which a questing party with characters of distinct classes set off on a mission, The Clockwork Boys has its own agendas. According to the afterword, the story (volume 1 in a series) first took shape several years ago when T.Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon aka Red Wombat) became frustrated with moody paladins in RPGs. As a consequence central to the story is a disgraced paladin, who under the influence of a demon committed mass murder and now has been given a chance of redemption.

But equally central is Slate – a forger, thief and occasional accountant with bad allergies and a magical sense of smell. Slate is a more familiar character for readers of Kingfisher – a clever woman with a wise head and a sense of magic. Slate has been charged with a suicide mission to discover the secret of the infamous ‘clockwork boys’ – mechanical centaur-like walking siege engines that have been fighting a war for a distant city.

The relationship between the two core characters and the rest of the party (an amoral assassin, a misogynistic scholar-monk, and a ‘gnole’ they pick up on the way) provides lots of scope of the interplay between characters and snappy dialogue.

Fun, lots of action and over way too soon to be fully satisfying. I eagerly look forward to the second volume.

 

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14 comments

  1. Mark Hepworth

    There was some good twisting of tropes, particularly with the paladin, but Slate ended up as my favourite.
    I generally want the first volume of a series to standalone reasonably well, and maaaaybe this didn’t, but it was a fairly sensible pausing point

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Ken J

    We got to watch some of the editing evolution on this on Ursulav’s twitter feed in late 2017. My recollection is that the author was despairing of wrangling the whole mess as a unified book, and one of her author-friends gave her dispensation to break it into 2 manageable chunks

    If you can do Twitter deep archaeology, Ursulav and KB Spangler did some of the editing as Twitter performance art. Look for the image “stet this”

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  3. Stevie

    Thank you!

    For some reason I’d not processed this, so as soon as I saw your post I bought it on Kindle Amazon UK. It’s cheap as well so even more joy…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lurkertype

    I too wanted more of it instantly. It is Swell. Slate’s magic smelling leads to many guffaws, and the paladin has reason to be moody and mostly isn’t.

    I also just read KB Spangler’s book “Greek Key” which is very lightweight but funny, and Wombat did the cover art for it. She perfectly captured the super-genius angry koala character.

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  5. JJ

    Lurkertype: I also just read KB Spangler’s book “Greek Key” which is very lightweight but funny, and Wombat did the cover art for it. She perfectly captured the super-genius angry koala character.

    goddammit <adds another plank to Mount Jengadoku>

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Kendall

    @Camestros Felapton: Thanks for posting this; I was mildly intrigued before, but reading your review & the comments here prompted me to e-mail myself a reminder to read the sample for THE CLOCKWORK BOYS.

    I know she’s a big Filer favorite, but I’ve only read a few of her shorter works – none of her actual books (for various reasons). This may change soon. 😉

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    • camestrosfelapton

      Likewise really. I thought Jackalope Wives was tremendous before connecting in my head that its writer was ‘RedWombat’ . Of course now it is hard to separate the author from their social media persona 🙂

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